Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Maenads on a Round Altar and Two Seated Female Statues

1819

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 161 x 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15152
Turner Bequest CLXXX 24 a

Catalogue entry

During his 1819 stay in Rome, one of Turner’s most extensive sketching campaigns was the large number of pencil studies made from the sculpture collections of the Vatican Museums (for a general discussion, see the introduction to the sketchbook). The three sketches on this page are numbered top left to bottom right:
a.
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the top sketch as a relief of maenads from a round altar,1 found in the Cortile Ottagono (also known as the Cortile Ottagonale, formerly the Cortile del Belvedere).2
b.
Powell has further identified the sculpture of a female figure in the bottom left-hand corner as that which is placed above the altar in the sketch above.3 Today the object can be found in the centre of the Cortile Ottagono (also known as the Cortile Ottagonale, formerly the Cortile del Belvedere) in the Museo Pio-Clementino.4
c.
Similarly, the female figure in the bottom right-hand corner tops a round altar dedicated to Hercules.5 Today the object can be found in the centre of the Cortile Ottagono in the Museo Pio-Clementino.6 Details of the relief decoration from the altar can be seen on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 26 (D15133; Turner Bequest CLXXX 25).

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

1
Powell 1984, p.414.
2
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘2. Belvedere II. Seite 153–404’, no.102u, pp.298–9, reproduced pl.17, left.
3
Powell 1984, p.414; see Amelung 1903–8, vol.II, no.102s, pp.297–8, reproduced pl.17, left.
4
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.I, Vatican City 1996, no.COR 7, p.118.
5
Powell 1984; see Amelung 1903–8, vol.II, no.102q, p.296, reproduced pl.17, right.
6
Spinola 1996, COR 6, pp.117–8.

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